Business agility

As the reach of digital business deepens, what would once have been unthinkable is now becoming the norm.

Take the way we work, for example. Recent research from the Institute of Inertia has revealed that nearly a quarter of British workers would rather work from home than receive a pay rise.

As these figures show, the popularity of working from home is undoubtedly growing. In the future, some HR experts expect off site working to be an accepted part of the working week for many employees.

This wouldn’t be possible without businesses investing in their digital infrastructure. Emails, files, even phone calls are being carried out via the internet. Invoices, too.

Gone are the days when accounts teams need to put their hands on original paper copies, plus paper copies of the paper copies and numerous rubber stamps, to validate an invoice.

Today, the whole invoicing process can be carried out online, enabling businesses to gain better visibility and control, and to work at a time and place of their choosing. Digital business processes, then, are allowing people to be more agile in the way they work.

Digital business is also leading to increased agility for businesses. Costs can be contained for quiet periods, leaving businesses better able to expand when opportunity arises. This view is something a new industry report Billentis validates.

Bruno Koch, an independent consultant, produces the lengthy report each year on developments in the e-invoicing industry, plus a blueprint on how to implement electronic invoicing within an organisation.

In this year’s report, Koch writes: “In today’s erratic economy, business agility is more important than ever. According to the concept of business agility, organisations seek to approach their operations and resources in a flexible manner.”

He continues: “Today’s business models evolved during decades which focused on conventional paper processing… The time is right to critically question the use of traditional models and shift to disruptive technologies.”

E-invoicing, as both he and I see it, is a disruptive technology that when put to use has the potential to dramatically reduce costs, increase positive relationships between buyers and suppliers and improve transparency and communication overall.

Koch, interestingly, also points to an increased need for businesses to demonstrate their accountability and transparency, in particular in response to the Panama Papers Scandal that rocked the financial world earlier this year.

Koch writes that the largest data leak in history will in future mean businesses have to provide “more precise evidence that trading partners really exist and that business documents are based on a supply of goods and services”.

He continues: “The current accuracy of invoices and related business documents may no longer be sufficient… These challenges can be overcome with an appropriate measure to improve data accuracy.” It is e-invoicing, as Koch also iterates, that could lay the foundations for these improvements.

The exchange of goods and currency has always been central to doing business. Invoices represent this exchange, and the feeling of goodwill and camaraderie that develops between two businesses seeking joint success as buyer and supplier.

By adopting disruptive technology, everyone benefits. There are some things that need to be done right, however, which is where I will leave you with Mr Koch and his blueprint for success.

To download the Billentis e-invoicing report, click here.

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